Three-pool model of white matter

Jack L. Lancaster, Trevor Andrews, L. Jean Hardies, Stephen Dodd, Peter T. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Purpose: To investigate the use of a three-pool relaxation model to measure myelin, myelinated-axon, and mixed water-pool fractions in white matter (WM) during myelination. Materials and Methods: MRI at 1.9 Tesla, and conventional spin-echo imaging were used to acquire T1 and T2 relaxation data in 15 normal children ranging in age from 3 months to 13 years 4 months. Three equations with three unknowns were solved to calculate three water-pool fractions for each child in a frontal association-fiber area and a frontal-parietal projection-fiber area. The temporal trend of the fractions was compared with a theoretical three-pool myelination model. Results: The myelin level in the projection-fiber area rose earlier than in the association- fiber area following the standard caudal-to-rostral trend. The temporal trend of the three-pool fractions followed that predicted by the theoretical myelination model in both brain areas. The myelinatedaxon and mixed pool sizes were significantly different in the two WM areas following early myelination, although their myelin pools were similar. T1 values correlated more highly with the myelinated-axon and mixed pool fractions than with the myelin pool fraction. Conclusion: The three-pool relaxation model provides measurements of water-pool fractions in WM that follow values predicted during myelination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003


  • Axon
  • Myelin
  • Myelination
  • T1
  • T2
  • White matter
  • White-matter development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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